Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Christmas Memory

A Christmas story only Truman Capote could tell.

 A Christmas Memory
Truman Capote
illustrated by Beth Peck 1956

It's late November, "fruitcake weather".  Capote tells the story of a young boy and the sweet friendship he has with an older, childlike cousin.  They both seem to be a bit out of place in their world and their family so they form a bond together.  They take an old baby carriage to gather pecans and start the month long preparations for Christmas. 

They bring home a tree, decorating it with homemade ornaments.

But we can't afford the made-in-Japan splendors at the five-and-dime.  So we do what we've always done:  sit for days at the kitchen table with scissors and crayons and stacks of colored paper.  I make sketches and my friend cuts them out:  lots of cats, fish too (because they're easy to draw), some apples, some watermelons, a few winged angels devised from saved-up sheets of Hershey-bar tin foil.  We use safety pins to attach these creations to the tree;  as a final touch, we sprinkle the branches with shredded cotton (picked in August for this purpose).

 And make each other kites for Christmas presents. 

"My, how foolish I am!"  my friend cries, suddenly alert, like a woman remembering too late she has biscuits in the oven.  "You know what I've always thought?" she asks in a tone of discovery, and not smiling at me but a point beyond.  "I've always thought a body would have to be sick and dying before they saw the Lord.  And I imagined that when He came it would be like looking at the Baptist window:  pretty as colored glass with the sun pouring through, such a shine you don't know it's getting dark.  And it's been a comfort:  to think of that shine taking away all the spooky feeling.  But I'll wager it never happens.  I'll wager at the very end a body realizes the Lord has already shown Himself.  That things as they are" -her hand circles in a gesture that gathers clouds and kites and grass and Queenie pawing earth over her bone- "just what they've always seen, was seeing Him.  As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes."

No comments:

Post a Comment